Brachial plexus injuries most often enter the world of tort law in two types of cases: medical malpractice cases and auto accident cases. In the former case, due to birth injury, a baby can suffer from temporary or permanent nerve damage and/or paralysis in the hands and arms. In the latter case, brachial nerve damage during a car accident may cause similar temporary or permanent nerve damage.
A Brief Overview of Tort Law
Both of these cases come under the heading of tort law. In this civil law category, according to Cornell University Law School, “A civil wrong…can be redressed by awarding damages.” Tort cases include automotive accidents, medical malpractice, workers compensation, and other personal injury cases, as well. Though there may be a variety of types of tort law cases, they all have one thing in common and that is that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff.
Brachial Plexus Injuries and Birth Injury Cases
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 1% of births will result in obstetric brachial plexus palsy. This occurs when, “During delivery, the baby’s shoulder may become impacted on the mother’s pubic bone causing the brachial plexus nerves to stretch and tear…The prognosis for recovery depends on the pattern, complexity, and severity of injury.”
Depending on which nerves are damaged, the baby may then develop Erb’s palsy, in which case it will have partial or full paralysis in the shoulder and elbow. Or it may develop Klumpke’s palsy, in which case the nerve damage will affect ability to move the wrist or hand.
If you suspect that your infant is suffering from brachial plexus injuries due to negligence or medical misconduct during delivery, you may have a medical malpractice case against your obstetrician. However, you will need to prove that there was negligent activity at the time and that your obstetrician could have prevented the birth injury, thus preventing your infant’s temporary or permanent nerve damage.
Auto Accidents and Brachial Plexus Injuries
Brachial plexus injuries also often occur in auto accidents, especially in cases in which one driver hits another from behind. The sudden jerk of the collision can cause the nerves of the brachial plexus to stretch and/or tear, causing temporary or permanent damage. In cases like these, proving fault is generally as simple as proving that the other motorist acted negligently and caused the accident.
However, if you do not seek medical attention immediately and cannot prove that your brachial plexus injuries occurred due to trauma inflicted during the accident, you may not be awarded compensation. Furthermore, because brachial plexus injuries may or may not have lasting effects, you may not know whether you will need to continue with treatments, need nerve grafts or nerve and/or muscle transfers after the fact.
Whether you have suffered a brachial plexus injury in an auto accident or you’ve recently had a baby who’s suffered trauma during birth, you may have a tort case to pursue. If you can prove that the nerve damage to yourself or someone you love was caused by a negligent obstetrician or by the other driver’s negligent actions, you will be owed compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and/or any other damages resulting from the injuries.
If you or someone you love has suffered from a brachial plexus injury due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct, then you should speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. At Bandas Law Firm, we are brachial plexus injury experts, and we can help you understand your case and the compensation owed to you. For a free consultation and case analysis, fill out our online contact form or call our office at 855-427-3332.